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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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102                               LIFE   OF
killed under the ruins of their houses, and by the fall-
ing1 of the church during a religious procession-   Hum-
boldt   exclaims,   mournfully—" Our frientlw arc   no
more ; the house which we have inhabited LS a heap
of dust; the town I have described no longer exists*
The day was hot, the sky cloudless., the air calm : it
was Maundy Thursday, and the population was mostly
assembled in the  churches; nothing seemed to an-
nounce the threatened misfortune.   It wan four o'clock,
in the afternoon.    Suddenly the bells,  which woue
silent on this day, tolled; it "was God's haiul3 not a
human power, which rung the grave-boll.    A Bhock
of ten to twelve seconds terrified the people, the earth
swayed like a boiling fluid.    The danger was thought
to have passed away when suddenly the Kubterraucan
thunder was heard.    The town was utterly destroyed.
The nine to ten thousand dead, of whom four to five
thousand were buried  beneath  the falling church,,
where a solemn procession was taking place., were the
more fortunate, as they were suddenly and unexpect-
edly overtaken  by death when  partly engagecl  in,
devotion and prayer, when we compare them to the
unfortunate beings who., injured and wounded, sur-
vived their friends for nxanths., and then perished for
want of attendance and nourishment.    The following
night was calm and bright, the moon shone, the quiet
heavens formed a fearful contrast to the earth., covered
with corpses and ruinS*    Mothers carried the dead
bodies of their children in their arms, mourning fami-
lies wandered through the town seeking a brother,
husband.,  or friend.,  of whose fate  they were igno-
The vividness of this description, in which BCum-
boldt transports himself to the desolated town, and
enumerates his friends and favourite spots there^
evinces clearly what a deep, painful impression the
news of the fate of Caracas had made upon Mm**
,* Never, probably, has pity shown itself more active, or inosrw in-
ventive, than in the efforts winch, were made to extend assistance to
the -unfortunates whose sighs resounded in th© air, Toole to dig uj>